(Written 10/3/2021 by Sherry)
Holly passed on in her sleep sometime early this morning (10/3/21), at age 16+, after dealing with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) for about a year.
She was actually doing pretty well until about a week or so ago when I could see she had problems jumping up on the couch. Then just a couple of days ago, she basically stopped eating. Yesterday I had to leave for a large part of the day and before I left I saw her walking slowly toward the guest room, which I assumed was to use the litter box. When I came home late in the day, I went to look for her and she was lying on the tile in a corner of that room. In recent weeks, I had noticed that she been liking warm places, like behind the TV or sitting in the sun on the windowsill, so the cold tile seemed like a strange choice. I said to her, "That's kind of an odd place for you, isn't it?" She twitched a bit in her sleep and I could see her breathing, so I knew she was still alive. But I confess I wasn't really surprised when I went to check on her the next morning (this morning) and her body was still there, but she was gone.
I ended up wrapping her up best I could in a couple of old pillowcases and burying her out in the yard near the bathroom window, which was one of her favorite places to sit and look out at the birds and stuff. She joins the ashes of Nike and Brooks that I scattered out there a few months ago.
Holly was usually described as a "weird little kitty" by those who met her. Most people never saw her at all; she would just tend to stay away from any rooms where strangers (read: anyone but me) were present. If she did happen to come out and then notice I had guests, she'd likely turn tail and run. But on rare occasions, she might allow a special stranger not just to see her, but to pet her. And she loved being petted. Generally, if someone could get close enough to touch her, she'd love it. She'd bump against their hand, asking for more. She'd start to walk away and come right back around. She was hooked... for several minutes anyway. Then she'd likely disappear again, and forget she ever was okay with the person. But even though she loved being petted, she hated being held or cuddled... by anyone, even me.
A possibly related weirdness was that for quite a while she was overgrooming herself. When I first got her, she had very short hair on her belly that I assumed was from getting shaved for being spayed. But more than a year later, she still (or again) had almost no hair on her belly, so it was apparent she was licking herself too much. Occasionally the area would get larger or smaller, but it stayed that way for a long time. The vet suggested she was "self-soothing". I wondered if maybe her need to overgroom was related to her need to be petted and if maybe she was itchy all the time or something. In any case, she did eventually stop and her belly fur grew back. I like to think she was feeling secure enough that she didn't feel the need for soothing any more.
She was also weird when it came to food. The shelter I got her from fed their cats canned food twice (I think) a day, and had dry food out all the time. So I did basically the same thing when I got Mimi and Holly. Although Holly seemed to enjoy any kind of kibble, she would occasionally reject canned food and I never could figure out any kind of pattern to it.
The food weirdness mainly was a problem when she started getting medical issues (both of which had weight loss as a primary symptom). First it was hyperthyroid, for which I had to give her a pill. Her resistance to being held meant it wasn't realistic for me to pill her (especially since it was actually 1/2 pill and hence not totally smooth), so I decided to grind up the pill and put it in her wet food. That meant she occasionally missed her dose, but it wasn't too bad. Then she got the CKD diagnosis, for which she was supposed to eat a special diet. At first she seemed to really like all the options for the wet food, but then she started getting picky about them, so I got dry food which isn't preferred because with CKD cats it's important that they get enough fluids and dry food doesn't help that. I found myself buying various cat broths and other "treats" that were reasonable for CKD cats, and she liked a lot of those--most of the time. I found out unsalted butter was OK for CKD cats, and Holly seemed to really love it, so I started putting the thyroid medication in the butter, and that worked really well. Anyway, long story short, her pickiness made it a bit hard to tell when she started going downhill, but when she stopped eating the butter, I was sure.
Part of the reason I picked Holly at the pound was because she was obviously unhappy there. Even though I never really figured her out, I do believe she was happy in her life with me. The house feels extremely empty without her.
"It's not something you get over, but it's something you get through." (Willie Nelson)